In The US, Mass Child Killings Are Tragedies. In Pakistan, Mere Bug Splats

, The Guardian, Monday 17 December 2012
 
A memorial to the victims of the Sandy Hook school shootings in Connecticut. The children killed by US drones in north-west Pakistan 'have no names, no pictures, no memorials of candles and teddy bears'. [A memorial to the victims of the Sandy Hook school shootings in Connecticut. The children killed by US drones in north-west Pakistan ‘have no names, no pictures, no memorials of candles and teddy bears’. Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty.]

“Mere words cannot match the depths of your sorrow, nor can they heal your wounded hearts … These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change.” Every parent can connect with what President Barack Obama said about the murder of 20 children in Newtown, Connecticut. There can scarcely be a person on earth with access to the media who is untouched by the grief of the people of that town.

It must follow that what applies to the children murdered there by a deranged young man also applies to the children murdered in Pakistan by a sombre American president. These children are just as important, just as real, just as deserving of the world’s concern. Yet there are no presidential speeches or presidential tears for them, no pictures on the front pages of the world’s newspapers, no interviews with grieving relatives, no minute analysis of what happened and why. Continue reading

5 Things They Don’t Tell You About Drone Strikes

by Mehdi Hasan, The Huffington Post,  October 30, 2012
Yesterday, I was a panellist on BBC1’s Sunday Morning Live show on which, for once, I was able to debate the morality of the Obama administration’s CIA drone programme in Pakistan. There has been little discussion of the specific details of the programme in the mainstream media, on either side of the pond, and the recent US presidential debate on foreign policy saw moderator Bob Schieffer ask Mitt Romney (and not Barack Obama) a single, loaded and unfocused question on the issue.
Now, in the wake of a Pakistani man taking the British government to court over its alleged involvement in the killing of his father in a US drone strike in Waziristan, British media organisations are starting to pay attention.
But here are five things they – politicians, journalists, security ‘experts’, etc – don’t tell you about drone strikes – four out of five of which I managed to squeeze into yesterday’s discussion on the BBC (and which resulted in fellow panellist and former home secretary David Blunkett, to his credit, suggesting he may have to rethink his support for drones):
1) Despite their supposed ‘accuracy’ and ‘precision’, a study by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism says CIA drones have been responsible for between 474 and 881 civilian deaths in Pakistan since mid-2004 – including 176 Pakistani children, who were just as innocent as Malala Yousafzai. Continue reading

Between the US bombs and Taliban fighters: The Children Under Attack in Pakistan and Afghanistan

October 18, 2012

Infanticide as Policy?

by DAVE LINDORFF, Counterpunch

Six children were attacked in Afghanistan and Pakistan this past week. Three of them, teenaged girls on a school bus in Peshawar, in the tribal region of western Pakistan, were shot and gravely wounded by two Taliban gunmen who were after Malala Yousufzai, a 14-year-old girl who has been bravely demanding the right of girls to an education. After taking a bullet to the head, and facing further death threats, she has been moved to a specialty hospital in Britain. Her two wounded classmates are being treated in Pakistan.

The other three children were not so lucky. They were killed Sunday in an aerial attack by a US aircraft in the the Nawa district of Helmand Province in Afghanistan, not so far from Pakistan. The attack, described by the military as a “precision strike,” was reportedly aimed at several Taliban fighters who were allegedly planting an IED in the road, but the strike also killed three children, Borjan, 12; Sardar Wali, 10; and Khan Bibi, 8, all from one family, who were right nearby collecting dung for fuel.

Initially, as is its standard MO, the US denied that any children had been killed and insisted that the aircraft had targeted three “Taliban” fighters, and had successfully killed them. Only later, as evidence grew indesputable that the three children had also been killed, the US switched to its standard fallback position for atrocities in the Afghanistan War and its other wars: it announced that it was “investigating” the incident and said that it “regretted” any civilian deaths.

There are several questions that arise immediately from this second story. First of  all, if the three kids were close enough to be killed by this “precision” attack, they were surely also close enough to have been visible to whatever surveillance craft was monitoring the activities of the Taliban fighters, and if they were seen, there should have been no air strike called in. Second, the US, allegedly trying to reduce civilian casualties, is supposedly now operating its air attacks under rules of engagement that only allow strikes where there is “imminent danger” to US or allied forces. How is planting an IED an “imminent” danger? If the location is known, troops in the area can be alerted, and the IED removed or detonated. An identified IED is not an imminent threat. Continue reading

What the drones protest march in Waziristan aims to achieve

Sports star turned politician Imran Khan and civil rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith will highlight US drones’ innocent victims

guardian.co.uk, Thursday 4 October 2012

A family from South Waziristan flee the battle zone

[A 2009 Brookings Institution report found that US drone attacks kill 10 civilians for every one militant in heavily targeted regions like Waziristan. Photograph: Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty Images]

The British civil rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith and international cricketer turned politician Imran Khan will begin a peace march on 7 October into Pakistan‘s Waziristan region. Their aim is to highlight the plight of innocent people killed or injured by US drones.

Smith took the precautionary measure of writing to President Obama and his CIA director, David Petraeus, informing them about the march. In the letter, he requested that the president ensure the names of him and the other marchers would not be on the weekly kill list the president reviews, along with security officials, in the White House situation room. Smith wrote:

“Please remember that you and I are both lawyers from the same tradition, and it would be unseemly (as well as being both illegal and upsetting for my family) if you were to authorize my assassination.”

Like the sealed corridors in which the top secret kill list nomination process occurs – an account of which was reportedly leaked by the Obama administration to the New York Times – Waziristan has, until now, remained in the shadows, a place about which very little is known or reported. It is hoped the march will help open the area to public scrutiny by taking media there to gather independent information. Continue reading

Pakistan: US women internationalists join tribal protest against US drone war

US women may stage hunger strike in Pakistan in anti-drones protest

Code Pink activists gathered in Islamabad ready to join march led by Imran Khan into tribal region bordering Afghanistan

, guardian.co.uk, in Islamabad,Wednesday 3 October 2012

Medea Benjamin of Code Pink protests in August outside a building in Florida where the group says drones are built. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesNot content with a planned march into one of Pakistan‘s most dangerous regions, a group of middle-aged American women are considering mounting a hunger strike outside the US embassy in Islamabad as part a campaign against CIA drone attacks in the country.

Thirty-five activists from Code Pink, a US anti-war group, have gathered in the Pakistani capital this week as they prepare for an unprecedented march and political rally in South Waziristan, one of the semi-autonomous tribal areas on the Afghan border, which is a hotbed of Taliban militancy.

Despite intense publicity surrounding the event, doubts persist over whether it will be able to take place. Local authorities have expressed strong doubts about the safety of the march, even though the Pakistani military has long claimed its operations in the area have brought a semblance of security.

Medea Benjamin of Code Pink protests in August
outside a building in Florida where the group says
drones are built. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images Continue reading

‘Drones causing mass trauma among civilians,’ major study finds

September 25th, 2012 | by

An armed US Reaper drone over Afghanistan (U.S. Air Force/Lt Col Leslie Pratt/ Flickr)

The near constant presence of CIA drones ‘terrorises’ much of the civilian population of Pakistan’s tribal areas according to a new report.

Men, women and children are subjected to almost constant trauma – including fear of attack, severe anxiety, powerlessness, insomnia and high levels of stress – says a nine month investigation into CIA drone strikes in Pakistan by two top US university law schools. More than 130 ‘victims, witnesses and experts’ were interviewed in Pakistan for the study.

A number of those eyewitnesses corroborated the Bureau’s own recent findings – that rescuers have been deliberately targeted by the CIA in the tribal areas.

The new study heavily challenges US government claims that few civilians have died in CIA drone strikes, saying that there is ‘significant evidence’ to the contrary.

As the report notes in its executive summary: ‘In the United States, the dominant narrative about the use of drones in Pakistan is of a surgically precise and effective tool that makes the US safer by enabling “targeted killing” of terrorists, with minimal downsides or collateral impacts. This narrative is false.’

by bravenewfoundation, http://www.warcosts.com/
Since 2004, up to 884 innocent civilians, including at least 176 children, have died from US drone strikes in the North Waziristan region of Pakistan. A new report from the Stanford and New York University law schools finds drone use has caused widespread post-tramatic stress disorder and an overall breakdown of functional society in North Waziristan. In addition, the report finds the use of a “double tap” procedure, in which a drone strikes once and strikes again not long after, has led to deaths of rescuers and medical professionals. Many interviewees told the researchers they didn’t know what America was before drones. Now what they know of America is drones, death and terror. Continue reading

US Citizens to lead anti-drone march in northern Pakistan

Medea Benjamin in Tucson: “Obama’s Tuesday kill list responsible for assassination of 16-year-old from Denver”

By Brenda Norrell, Censored News
http://www.bsnorrell.blogspot.com

Thursday, August 2, 2012

TUCSON — President Obama’s Tuesday kill list is responsible for the assassination of a 16-year-old boy from Denver, Medea Benjamin of CodePink said here today. Describing the US program of targeted assassinations using drones, the CIA out of control, and the US Congress refusing to act, Benjamin said it is time for US citizens to show the world they do not support US drone assassinations in Pakistan and elsewhere.

Benjamin called for citizens in Tucson to join the march with Pakistanis in northern Pakistan, during the week of September 21, and show the world that the people of the US seek global peace and understanding, and do not support US drone killings.”President Obama signs off on the kill list,” Benjamin said, speaking at a public gathering in the downtown Tucson library.

Obama meets with his advisers on Tuesday to review the list. “They decide who will live and who will die,” Benjamin said. Any male on the ground of military age is considered fair game.

She said that in a signature strike, drone operators manning the computer screens can fire at anything that looks suspicious, on the other side of the world, without the suspect being given a chance to surrender, or defend themselves against charges.

Benjamin, author of “Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control,” described the drone warfare that has killed both the US Constitution and innocent people, including children and teens, in Pakistan and Yemen.

During the Bush administration, drone strikes were every 40 days. During the Obama administration, the drone strikes increased to 1 every 3 days. Currently, there is a drone strike every 4 days.

US drone killing in western Pakistan.

Those drone strikes have killed 175 children. Few US citizens ever see the photos of those children who are disintegrated or burned by those drones. Sometimes only pieces of their flesh can be found for burial. A drone’s victim never hears the missile that kills him or her.

Benjamin described how one teenager, Tariq Aziz, attempted to take the case of a relative killed by a US drone to court in Pakistan. After meeting with attorneys, Tariq was assassinated by a US drone.

Benjamin pointed out that this type of US killing is counter-productive and driving people in other countries toward extremists out of despair and desperation.

Anwar Al-Awlaki was a 16-year-old from Denver. He was on Facebook and his friends said he was a normal teen, not interested in politics, who enjoyed rap and hip hop. He was enjoying an evening sharing a meal with his cousin in his family’s home village in Yemen, when he and his cousin were assassinated by a US drone strike.

Obama refuses to respond to questions about the US drone killing of Anwar Al-Awlaki of Denver.

“Barack Obama is responsible for this killing,” Benjamin said.

The US drone operations have been largely kept secret until now and operated by the CIA and Joint Special Operations. Continue reading